PM to meet with 7 heads of state in Uganda summit; Tour to include Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Kenya; Entebbe Operation 40th anniversary commemoration ceremony held Monday
Prime Minister Netanyahu arrived in Entebbe, Uganda Monday afternoon, the first stop during his four-day tour in Africa. The Prime Minister will visit Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia, where he will address the Ethiopian Parliament. African leaders from seven states will participate in a summit with Netanyahu in Uganda.
The Prime Minister is accompanied by a delegation of over 80 businessmen and women as well as Israeli diplomats, his trip centered on improving Israel’s political and economic relations with African nations, as well as addressing global security with African leaders.
Addressing the press Monday morning in Israel before his departure, Netanyahu spoke of the significance of his visit to sub-Saharan Africa, the first by an Israeli prime minister in over three decades stating, “I am now leaving on an historic visit to Africa. This visit will begin with a summit meeting with leaders from seven African countries who are coming especially to Entebbe, Uganda for this meeting, to welcome a Prime Minister of Israel for the first time in decades on African soil. Coming on a journey like this is also very important from diplomatic, economic and security perspectives and I am pleased that Israel is going back to Africa in a big way. We are opening Africa to Israel again. This visit will also include a moving meeting at Entebbe, where the great rescue operation was carried out. Also attending will be soldiers who participated in the operation as well as some of those who were rescued. All Africa is excited by this visit and I am very excited as well.”
Netanyahu’s tour began with a ceremony held in Entebbe commemorating 40 years since Operation Entebbe in 1976. The Prime Minister’s brother, Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu was killed during the operation. Also in attendance at the ceremony were IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan, IDF Intelligence Chief Herzi Halevi, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dor Gold, Israel’s Education Minister Miri Regev and the Prime Minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu.
Speaking at the ceremony, Netanyahu stated “Entebbe is always with me- in my thoughts, in my mind, and deep in my heart. The hijacking of the Air France plane to Entebbe touched a nerve for the people of Israel. Thirty-one years after the Holocaust, another a selection process took place in which Jews were separated from non-Jews by those who seek to kill us. The terrorists freed people of other nations and condemned the Jews to death.”
He thanked the heroes from Operation Entebbe stating that he is “deeply moved standing here in this place where IDF soldiers released our hostages in the heart of Africa, thousands of miles away from Israel.”
He spoke of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who he stated “deserves great appreciation for the leadership he has shown by making the fateful decision to go on the operation,” as well as Israel’s leaders who took part in the Operation, then Defense Minister Shimon Peres, IDF Chief of Staff Motta Gur, Israel Air Force Commander Benny Peled, Infantry and Paratroopers Commander Dan Shomron and “the Sayeret Matkal commander, my brother Yoni.”
He addressed global terror, stating “The fight against terror continues still today. It threatens every country and continent and we must stand united in one spirit, and one front, in the spirit of Entebbe.”